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Last year Samsung unveiled its 'touch of colour' design theme. This started on TVs, but soon found its way onto its monitors and somewhat less successfully its notebooks as well. Given the less enthusiastic reception, though, it's no surprise to see the Korean giant abandoning the theme in its latest notebooks for something a little less polarising. Its first effort is the R522 and it could be onto a winner.
Built around a 15.6in 16:9 ratio display the R522 is an ideal affordable all-rounder. Available for between £550 and £600, it features a decent 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T6400, a plentiful 4GB DDR2 RAM and a capacious 320GB hard drive. This trio of components provide a good mix for a family PC, providing enough processing power to perform relatively intensive tasks, like photo or video editing, as well as a decent amount of storage to boot.
You can probably rule out gaming on the R522, though, since it utilises Intel's GMA X4500M chipset, which is okay for undemanding older titles, but really struggles with anything recent. What it lacks in gaming credentials, however, it should make up for with frugal power use, something we'll be covering a little later on.
Outside of the core specifications the R522 has a decent feature set, though it is lacking a couple of things. For starters Wi-Fi is of the Wireless-G variety, which means slower data rates and shorter range, but there's also no Bluetooth. In fairness, a lack of Bluetooth is a common sight among more affordable notebooks, but some do manage to offer both Draft-N Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, or at least one of the two, albeit by economising in other areas. Clearly if you want and need either the R522 might not be for you.
What the R522 does deliver is excellent connectivity. There are three dedicated USB ports, plus one further USB/eSATA dual-purpose port for a total of four USB ports. We can't remember the last time a notebook of this size and price offered this many. Joining the complement of USB ports is an HDMI output, VGA, Ethernet, headphone and microphone jacks and a 54mm ExpressCard slot. On the front, meanwhile, just below the large selection of status lights, is a 3-in-1 memory card reader.
Samsung has also integrated a 2-megapixel webcam above the screen. Unlike previous machines, though, the microphone is also above the screen instead of by the keyboard. This makes a lot more sense, even if Samsung has opted to put the mic in the corner instead of the middle.